EIGHT men and one woman have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs as police carried out raids this morning.

Two men, aged 58 and 60, from the Meols area, three 50-year-old men from Moreton, Old Swan and Knowsley Village, a 50-year-old woman from Wallasey, a 45-year-old man from Paisley in Scotland and two men, aged 43 and 34 years, from Childwall and Wirral respectively, who were arrested in the Midlands, are currently being questioned.

The arrests follow an extensive investigation by detectives from the newly-formed Matrix Serious Organised Crime unit.

During the investigation officers have seized five kilos of heroin - which has a street value of £50,000 - and half a tonne of adulterants, which are used as cutting agents for Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

The adulterant has the potential to yield £10 million profit if mixed with a Class A drug.

Merseyside Police has also confirmed that £25,000 in cash has been seized from a property in Knowsley Village.

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Richardson, head of the MSOC investigation wing, said: "The arrests this morning are the result of an extensive investigation by detectives.

"Acting on information we carefully planned this initiative over several months.

"These arrests reaffirm our commitment to tackling drug supply and supports the force's wider serious and organised crime strategy.

"The force has announced today that it is building on the success of the specialist Matrix Team, which was established back in 2005 to target gun and gang related crime, with the creation of the Matrix Serious Organised Crime portfolio.

"The creation of the new department brings together 1,500 officers and support staff from the existing Matrix team, the Force Intelligence Bureau, Force Crime Operations Unit and Operational Support Unit.

"By bringing these teams together under one umbrella the force will provide a more resilient and sophisticated approach to tackling the threats of serious and organised crime.

“They will work closely with different partner organisations to ensure that all avenues are explored, and legislation used to disrupt serious and organised crime on Merseyside."

He added: "Today's operation is just one example of the force's commitment - with the support of the public and partner agencies - to tackling drug related-crime and organised crime groups working in the Merseyside area.

“We know the drugs we have seized during this investigation were destined for supply across the North West of England, Scotland and the North East and would have caused untold misery in a number of different communities.

"These arrests send out a clear message to those involved in organised crime. Organised crime, which includes the production and supply of drugs, blights our communities and puts ordinary law abiding people at risk.

"I would like to reassure the public that we will keep up the pressure on those involved in serious and organised crime on Mersyside.

“We will relentlessly pursue these offenders and put them before the courts to make our streets safer.”

All those arrested this morning have been taken to police stations across Merseyside where they will be interviewed by detectives.